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Turtlebot 3

Robotis and OSRF Announce TurtleBot 3: Smaller, Cheaper, and Modular

Thousands of TurtleBots are out in the world right now, providing a (mostly) straightforward and (mostly) affordable way to get started with ROS. They’re (mostly) portable and (mostly) extendable, allowing you (with a limited amount of inconvenience) to modify the robot to keep up with your needs. TurtleBot 2 is a great platform (I certainly love mine), but its size and cost usually restrict it to people who already have some ROS experience, and know that a TurtleBot is something worth investing in. For people who want to get started with ROS but aren’t prepared to make as much of an investment, there just aren’t a lot of options with the same kind of community and support that you get with TurtleBot. 

At ROSCon this past weekend, the Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF) and South Korean robot maker ROBOTIS are tackling these problems by announcing a shiny new version of TurtleBot: TurtleBot 3. TB3 is small enough to fit into a backpack, and with a single-board computer instead of a netbook and just two Dynamixel motors driving a pair of wheels, it’s both simpler than previous TurtleBots and significantly cheaper. With tons of easy options for expandability (including sensors, computers, drive systems, and more) and the kind of software support that TurtleBots are known for, TB3 seems like the best intro to doing cool stuff with ROS yet. 

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Microspine gripper for robots

Stanford's New Spiny Grippers Will Help RoboSimian Go Rock Climbing

Over a decade ago, Stanford roboticists started experimenting with ways of using arrays of very small spines to help climbing robots grip rough surfaces. These microspine grippers have been used on all kinds of research robots since then, and recently, NASA has decided that microspines are the best way for spacecraft to grab onto asteroids.

Yesterday at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in South Korea, Shiquan Wang from Stanford presented a new microspine-based palm design for rock-climbing robots. These palms use microspines that can support four times the weight of previous designs, which will be enough to turn JPL’s RoboSimian DRC robot into a champion rock climber. And we’re not talking just scrambling up slopes: It’ll be able to scale vertical rock faces, and even clamber around overhangs. 

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FLOBI and iCub robot heads

Video Friday: One-Legged Hopper, Mini Humanoid, and Robot Heads

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, Korea
NASA SRC Qualifier – October 10-10, 2016 – Online
ICSR 2016 – November 1-3, 2016 – Kansas City, Kan., USA
Social Robots in Therapy and Education – November 2-4, 2016 – Barcelona, Spain
Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems 2016 – November 7-9, 2016 – London, England
AI-HRI – November 17-19, 2016 – Arlington, Va., USA


Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


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TurtleBot powered by Intel Joule module at the Intel Developer Forum in August.

Upgrading My TurtleBot: Intel Joule, Raspberry Pi, or Something in Between?

I really enjoy my TurtleBot. I haven’t programmed it to do anything very useful, like bringing me coffee, but it’s still a lot of fun: It lets even a n00b like me explore and learn a bit about ROS, or Robot Operating System, the influential software platform used by a growing number of robotics researchers and companies around the world. My kids seem to like the TurtleBot, too. It’s now decorated with “Frozen” stickers and a drawing of what I assume is Elsa’s face.

Now, after nearly three years, ElsaBot needs an upgrade. In addition to a new battery pack, I’m considering replacing the Asus netbook that powers the robot. Something smaller, more powerful, and less ugly would be great.

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UT Austin Dreamer humanoid robot

Video Friday: Deep Learning for Cars, Space Invaders With Drones, and Disagreeable Robot

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ISER 2016 – October 3-6, 2016 – Tokyo, Japan
Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, Korea
NASA SRC Qualifier – October 10-10, 2016 – Online
ICSR 2016 – November 1-3, 2016 – Kansas City, Kan., USA
Social Robots in Therapy and Education – November 2-4, 2016 – Barcelona, Spain
Distributed Autonomous Robotic Systems 2016 – November 7-9, 2016 – London, England


Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.


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Agressive quadrotor

Aggressive Quadrotors Conquer Gaps With Ultimate Autonomy

Just a few weeks ago, we posted about some incredible research from Vijay Kumar’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania getting quadrotors to zip through narrow gaps using only onboard localization. This is a big deal, because it means that drones are getting closer to being able to aggressively avoid obstacles without depending on external localization systems. The one little asterisk to this research was that the quadrotors were provided the location and orientation of the gap in advance, rather than having to figure it out for themselves.

Yesterday, Davide Falanga, Elias Mueggler, Matthias Faessler, and Professor Davide Scaramuzza, who leads the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich, shared some research that they’ve just submitted to ICRA 2017. It’s the same kind of aggressive quadrotor maneuvering, except absolutely everything is done on board, including obstacle perception. It doesn’t get any more autonomous than this.

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Pepper humanoid robot

Video Friday: LEGO Drone Kits, Robots in the Desert, and Pepper Learns New Tricks

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!):

Gigaom Change – September 21-23, 2016 – Austin, Texas, USA
RoboBusiness – September 28-29, 2016 – San Jose, Calif., USA
HFR 2016 – September 29-30, 2016 – Genoa, Italy
ISER 2016 – October 3-6, 2016 – Tokyo, Japan
Cybathlon Symposium – October 07, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Cybathalon 2016 – October 08, 2016 – Zurich, Switzerland
Robotica 2016 Brazil – October 8-12, 2016 – Recife, Brazil
ROSCon 2016 – October 8-9, 2016 – Seoul, Korea
IROS 2016 – October 9-14, 2016 – Daejon, Korea
NASA SRC Qualifier – October 10-10, 2016 – Online
ICSR 2016 – November 1-3, 2016 – Kansas City, Kan., USA
Social Robots in Therapy and Education – November 2-4, 2016 – Barcelona, Spain


Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.


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BIG-i personal home robot

BIG-i Social Home Robot Has a Big Eye, Launches on Kickstarter

In case you haven’t yet managed to find the perfect social robot for your home, this is BIG-i. BIG-i is going to stare at you without blinking until you decide that you want it. Watching, always watching. Seriously though, BIG-i should get your attention if for no other reason than it’s a design that’s completely different (and significantly softer) than anything we’ve seen before. It’s also mobile, with what looks to be a simple and useful if-this-then-that-style verbal programming. The Kickstarter just Kickstarted off and has already just about reached its goal, but if giant eyeballs are your thing (and let’s be honest, everyone has a thing for giant eyeballs), this robot is probably worth a look.

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Automaton

IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
Contact us:  e.guizzo@ieee.org

Editor
Erico Guizzo
New York City
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.
 

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